, Salem, MA

Local News

November 14, 2013

Current owner sues Creese and Cook over pollution costs

DANVERS — The owner of a polluted former tannery site on Clinton Avenue is suing the former owner in Superior Court to recoup a share of the cleanup costs.

The former Creese and Cook tannery site is on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list, as one of the nation’s most contaminated sites.

Nicholas Decoulos, an attorney who lives in Gloucester, is suing to get a contribution from Creese and Cook for a portion of the cleanup costs he owes the state, about $207,500. It’s the amount the state has said Decoulos is liable to pay.

Creese and Cook was dissolved, however, in 1990. For the purposes of Decoulos’ claims, the corporation was revived for one year starting on Sept. 16.

Decoulos’ involvement in the site dates to 2003 when a trust, of which he was the sole beneficiary, bought the property, according to court records.

According to the complaint, Creese and Cook operated a tannery both on the Clinton Avenue site and directly across the Crane River on Water Street from 1914 to 1984.

“In the course of that operation, (Creese and Cook) disposed of and released hazardous materials, including arsenic, chromium and dioxin, among other substances, into the soil and groundwater at the site. ... It also may have disposed of and released such materials into the Water Street property and Crane River,” the lawsuit alleges.

Decoulos never operated the tannery or caused the contamination, according to the lawsuit.

Creese and Cook also abandoned a beamhouse used in its tannery operations, a building that contained “asbestos-containing materials,” according to the suit. In 2004, the Danvers building inspector ordered Decoulous to demolish the beamhouse, and he complied.

Decoulos was found liable in court in 2011 for the cleanup costs, but he argues that he is paying more than his fair share. He wants Creese and Cook to pay part of the costs.

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